In 2002, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA-10th District) attended a McLean Citizens Association (MCA) meeting and discussed the benefits of using Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to combat growing congestion problems in the Northern Virginia area.
"I could tell it was getting to the point where people were talking about it [congestion], but no one was doing anything about it, and I felt the best way to do this was Bus Rapid Transit," said Wolf. "I thought that was the best way to go for us and then we would move on to rail, but the state said no because they didn't think we could change BRT stations to Metro stations... and everyone endorsed rail."
Wolf said that because "everyone endorsed rail," he abandoned thoughts of BRT and embraced plans to bring Metro to the Dulles Corridor.
On May 16, Wolf attended another MCA meeting. This time he addressed the questions of the MCA Budget and Taxation committee regarding the Dulles Corridor Metro rail project.
SOME MEMBERS of the MCA are still in favor of BRT, and fear that the advent of Metro to Tysons will mean increased traffic woes for residents of McLean. MCA President Susan Turner argued that it "is not too late to pull the plug on this project" and "make a whole lot of citizens happy."
"It's not going to help the average citizen," said Turner. "I live two miles from Tysons Corner and my traffic is not going to improve... they are building a metropolis in my backyard."
Wolf reiterated that he had originally been in favor of BRT, but that the public had spoken, and now his goal is simply to do the best that can be done with Metro.
"I think the region needs mass transit," said Wolf. "This was voted for overwhelmingly and I think it will help. If everyone got in their car everyday and we didn't have Metro, we would have a very serious problem. I believe in mass transit."
Wolf added that his determination to see a successful implementation of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail is why he made a strong push for the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) to handle the project.
"MWAA has handled some very big projects on time and on budget," said Wolf. "The state has not done that."
TURNER SAID SHE did not disagree with the concept of mass transit, but rather with the plan to bring Metro instead of BRT to the area.
"BRT has managed to be very successful in cities all around the world," said Turner.
She also expressed concern over the potential for Metro at Tysons to be an above ground design.
"Now we're going to have this two month process of looking at a tunnel, and I don't think there is anyone in this room who doesn't think that that's going to put it over the Transportation Administration Efficiency Standards."
Currently, an outside engineering company is conducting the two month study on the pros and cons of building the Tysons Metro above or below ground.
"People will ride the train once it is built, but the key thing for us is that we would really like to see this underground," said John Pisarkiewicz. "The fear is that with these efficiency standards, the above ground will beat out below ground, and we don't want that monster riding over Tysons."
Wolf said that at this juncture, there is no way of knowing what will happen, and that everyone will simply have to wait two months for the engineering study to be completed.
Turner was critical of the fact that although the Transportation Administration recently tightened up efficiency standards, the old standards were grandfathered in to the Dulles Metrorail project.
"What kind of government do we have here?" asked Turner. "Certain people want standards out of the way, so they are just going to throw them out the window?"
Wolf argued that when the efficiency standards were changed, too much work had already been done on the Dulles Metrorail project.
"They were changing the rules in the middle of the stream, and all that money and time and arbitration had been committed," said Wolf.
MCA MEMBERS expressed concern about the increased development that will accompany the construction of Metro in Tysons.
"Because Metrorail will enable more development, some of us are wondering if we are paying more people to move in," said Rob Jackson, Chair of the Budget and Taxation committee.
Wolf said he agrees that mass transit infrastructure should be in place before development can be approved.
"I agree with Gov. [Tim] Kaine. For somebody to come in and say, 'I'm going to develop 1,500 homes, and have them pour out on to two lanes,' well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that people in those homes have two cars, and they are all driving to soccer practices and work and all of that at the same time," said Wolf.
MCA Board member Desmond O'Rourke said he feels the original concept of development in Tysons has been lost along the way.
"It seems to me that they're moving the goal post," said O'Rourke. "They're developing million dollar condos that will be bought by people who don't use the Metro."